239 – The Rise of Prevention and the Role of the Faith Based Community
Luke de Pulford, Arise Director and Co-founder
Tove van Lennep, Arise Manager of Frontline Advocacy
Arise is an anti-slavery and anti-human trafficking NGO, that works around the globe to protect communities from exploitation.
Arise believes the best way to combat vulnerability to trafficking among communities is to work directly with and empower local groups and their already established networks.
Arise works closely with the worldwide network of Catholic religious sisters. These sisters support Arise in the work to prevent human trafficking and help Arise to collect data on this issue.
In today’s culture, decisions are data-driven; however, it can be very difficult to collect data on prevention efforts because one is trying to prove that by their action something didn’t happen.
Building trust in anti-human trafficking circles has a substantial impact against slavery.
Covid has and will cause an increase in trafficking numbers, as it has led to an increase in vulnerability.
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Dave [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast, this is episode number 239, The Rise of Prevention and the Role of the Faith Based Community.
Production Credits [00:00:10] Produced by Innovate Learning, Maximizing Human Potential.
Dave [00:00:31] Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast, my name is Dave Stachowiak.
Sandie [00:00:37] My name is Sandie Morgan,
Dave [00:00:39] And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Well, if you’ve been listening to this show for more than just a couple of episodes, you have heard our continued efforts at this word, prevention and the importance of prevention. And of course, you’ve heard so much about partnership and community in our work. So, we’re so excited today to be able to bring two guests to us that will really help us to dove in much further on both of these. And I know we’re going to be able to learn a lot from I’m so glad to welcome to the show. Two guests today, Luke de Pulford and Tove van Lennep. Luke is the director and co-founder of Arise. He has been educated between the U.K., Italy and Lesotho. Luke came to an early appreciation of the importance of solidarity. Much of his professional life has been focused on the UK Parliament, where he is well known for his work in defense of Human Dignity. Separate to his work at Arise, Luke specializes in building coalitions, including the Coalition for Genocide Response and the Interparliamentary Alliance on China IPAC. He also serves as a fellow of Hong Kong watch advisor to the World Congress and Commissioner of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission. And I’m also glad to welcome Tove van, Tove van over her life and education in South Africa, Turkey, and the Netherlands. Tove van developed a clear picture of inequality and injustice and launched into a career for the protection of human dignity after working with refugees in the Hague. She spent several years in research and advocacy at an NGO in Johannesburg. Welcome, both of you to the show.
Luke [00:02:19] Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. Dave and Sandra, thank you for having us.
Tove van [00:02:22] Thank you for having us.
Sandie [00:02:24] All right. So, we’re going to dove right in. Let’s talk about the organization that you lead. It is very clear to me, just getting to know you over the last several weeks that your work around human dignity had to impact how you address human trafficking. So, tell us what that means for the organization Arise. Tell us what you do, where you do it, what is Arise?
Tove van [00:02:59] All right. I’m happy to start with the elevator pitch, I suppose. Arise is an anti-slavery and human trafficking NGO. We work across the world to protect communities from exploitation, and we believe that local groups and their networks hold the key to ending slavery and human trafficking and that they are a hugely powerful but marginalized and underdeveloped resource in the fight against slavery. We advise our little team of nine spread across London, Barcelona, New York, the Philippines, and India. But we work through a spectacular network of front-line organizations, which includes many hundreds of people. And at present, our focus areas are high-risk communities in India, Albania, the Philippines, Sudan, and Nigeria.
Sandie [00:03:51] Wow, all of that with nine people. Luke, do you want to add anything?
Luke [00:03:56] Yeah. Well, I’ll try to speak to your surprise, Sandra, because the fact that I think we’re able to work through all of these wonderful networks and reach so many people when we have such a small, cool team is because a core philosophy of Arise is that we don’t think that we need to centralize everything in London. There are many networks doing powerful work all over the world, and we see it is our job to push the power out to them. And we’re trying to close the gap between people who can help and the people who are actually doing this work on the front line. So, we’re there partly as the middle people to try to enable that support community to appreciate and to better help those doing the work, but then also to try to assist those doing the work to become known among that support community. So, we don’t need to have a very big staff. That said, we are all very, very overworked. I think that would be fair to say.
Sandie [00:04:55] That’s a common theme I hear from a lot of my colleagues in this field. So, what makes you different from other antislavery NGOs?
Tove van [00:05:05] Well, certainly this frontline approach, instead of coming into communities as Arise, we partner with and bolster the work of already established local groups. And this is very effective for a number of reasons because these groups are embedded, they’re in touch with on the ground realities, and can perceive and respond to new dynamics very rapidly and nimbly. This was made apparent during Covid, which we might be able to touch on a bit later. They’re also very efficient financially, but also in that they’re trusted. Trust really is seen as a silver bullet for effective anti-slavery work. And I suppose these are the two things that also make our work sustainable. I used to live and work in South Africa and I found it quite distressing watching very well-meaning international NGOs arrive and pump massive resources into an idea with little understanding of the culture or the norms and sometimes even the physical infrastructure that would be available to them and going the locally founded, locally-led route allows us to sort of bypass that and bypass bloated bureaucracies, promote greater local ownership, and also to come up with more suitable interventions that are led by local wisdom.
Sandie [00:06:25] So I’m a big fan of local wisdom and partnering. Anybody who’s listened to this podcast and knows partnership and collaboration are one of the mantras that we stand on. So, when you go into a community because you see that trafficking is an issue in that community if there is no organization that is addressing trafficking, then what do you do?
Luke [00:06:54] Well, I think that there are a number of ways of approaching this very often, if there is no presence on the ground, it’s not because there aren’t people of goodwill. It’s because they haven’t been able to either construct a network or a group of individuals, for lack of resources or lack of capacity. That has been my experience. So, we had this experience in Cameroon. We did some very early seed funding of a network because there wasn’t anything else there. But were there people who wanted there to be a network? Absolutely there were. And it was a question of discovering those people who were embedded in those communities who were wanting to do something and that process of network building, I would say, is a delicate, often difficult process requiring sensitivity, but it’s one that we felt is absolutely necessary to get to a place where communities can be more resilient. So, I think our view would be that even if there seem to be no organizations, there seems to be no anti-trafficking network. It doesn’t mean that there can’t be one.
Tove van [00:07:57] So just to say that although we are a secular organization ourselves, we support both secular and faith-based groups working to prevent slavery and human trafficking. This is because we recognize that eighty-four percent of the world is religious. And in most contexts, faith is essential to a person-centered approach to human humanitarian work. Or also we recognize the power of faith-based groups, for example, that Catholic sisters, the largest humanitarian force against human trafficking in the world by a rather long way. Just to unpack that statement, there are about five hundred and forty thousand religious sisters in the field, a large proportion of which work against trafficking in India. We are sort of connected to it, tapped into the AMRAT network, the Asian movement of women religious against human trafficking. And there are eighty-four congregations in Amarant as Arise. We kind of see these women as critical to abolition, both in their dedication and like the selflessness of their work and their human-centered approach.
Sandie [00:09:04] OK, so I’m starting to jot down numbers as we’re talking. And so, we went from a team of nine to a community of five hundred and forty thousand religious women. And I just know here in Orange County how critical those front-line faith-based communities have been in our task force and in serving, especially in the protection “p” of the four “p’s” that you’ve listed on your website. So, let’s look at what that looks like in the context of your four-pillar paradigm of prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership.
Luke [00:09:51] Perhaps I could come in on that point and say that I think we set that up really well because she describes a vast, extraordinarily powerful, extraordinarily unleveraged group working against human trafficking all over the world, which would be Catholic religious sisters. But what is most fascinating is that everywhere I have been, and I visited them in some of the worst affected regions of the world, they will always say the same thing to me, which is nobody funds prevention. Can you please give us some resources for prevention work? What we want to be doing is addressing the root causes of trafficking. Now, the reason these two things intersect, these communities which are very embedded, these religious systems which are going to serve those communities, whether or not there are resources, they’re going to be that whatever happens, the reason that intersects with the prevention pillar is that they are the people, among others, who have the staying power to really address the prevention issue, to say, OK, in this area, it seems as if an indicator of vulnerability to trafficking is education or an indicator of vulnerability to trafficking is access to social protection. And they will say, we want to work on this prevention issue, which we can do because we’re embedded in these communities. But they find themselves cut out of the conversation around prevention, cut out of the funding cycles that most large grant givers operate. And really what we want to do is wave a flag for them and say, well, you know, we’re not religious sisters, but we recognize that these people embedded in communities are uniquely placed to address the prevention point. And we really, it’s a no brainer for us in saying these are people with high levels of trust embedded in communities who love and serve those communities, who have unparalleled access. By the way, I’m just as a brief aside, we did a survey of some of the brothels in Delhi. And because they operate a very pastoral role within the brothels, religious sisters have access to sixty-six of the seventy-seven brothels that were surveyed in Delhi. It gives you an impression of the remarkable reach that they have. We at Arise to see it as a no brainer. These people are key to prevention. And I hope that answers your question about how those two things, the faith friendliness and the focus on prevention are constantly intertwined.
Sandie [00:12:20] I love that. And, you know, from our previous conversation, I’ve worked with folks in Athens, Greece, and here in Orange County. And one of the key characteristics of these faith leaders is their availability. They are there to stay. They answer the phone every time with or without resources. And when I couldn’t find housing for a survivor in Athens, Greece, we called the sisters charity and they said, our doors are. Open here in Orange County, the Sisters of St. Joseph were the first to house rescued victims in my community, so I’ll help you wave that flag. Tove van, do you have any comment on the role of prevention?
Tove van [00:13:13] Yeah, I guess I’d like to add that the reason that prevention work is under is I suppose the neglected P in the four-pillar paradigm is obviously because it’s so daunting and also because it’s hard to measure. But just to give you a better sense of what prevention actually is and what it is that we do, prevention is the provision of viable opportunities to people at risk. And we can provide those opportunities through education, through training, through job opportunities, awareness-raising, and rights empowerment or advocacy. So, our interventions are centered around really giving people alternatives to the promises of traffickers and therefore creating sustainable resilience to human trafficking that can be passed on through generations.
Sandie [00:14:03] That sounds so amazing and providing opportunities that are viable. I love that you include the word viable. So many times, people talk about when we created an opportunity, but if someone doesn’t have access to that opportunity, it’s just not going to produce the same results. So that’s a really key piece of that. You mentioned that these are hard to measure. Can you give us some guidelines for how we might actually measure prevention?
Tove van [00:14:40] Sure. Well, in practice, the best way to measure the effectiveness of prevention is through a series of indicators. So, Arise uses key indicators such as the percentage change and access to schooling, the number of people trained with employable skills, the number of people employed, the number of people accessing the rights and social protections or access and income diversification schemes. And the way we are able to gather this data is obviously from our front liners. Those who, through working with us, have become accustomed to capturing data and reporting it to us. Luke, do you have anything to add?
Luke [00:15:21] I think that was a great explanation. I think what I’d say is the problem in measuring prevention is you’re trying to prove a negative. You’re trying to prove that something didn’t happen because of what you did. And that’s really hard because, as you know, Sandra, is everybody on this call, I think knows we don’t really have very concrete prevalence data for the people who are exploited. So how can we move from a situation where we don’t really know who’s exploited to a situation where we think that we prevented them from being exploited? That there are a lot of conceptual leaps there. So Tove van is absolutely right. When we talk about indicators and that’s not without a good evidence base, but much more work needs to be done on what works in terms of prevention, what preventative interventions. We should be modeling more and developing more so that we can really be sure that when we invest in this kind of work, we’re making a difference in the right way.
Sandie [00:16:16] So everything you’re saying just lights up my brain with hope for the future, because the value of prevention is, it’s part of our folklore. Grandma used to say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but we say it. But we don’t do it because we live in a culture where decisions are data-driven and we’re looking for those numbers. And so, I’m back on front liners capturing data. How did you find a way to get five hundred and forty thousand women out across the globe to actually capture data, that’s amazing?
Luke [00:17:07] Well, let me slightly blunt that that wonderful introduction there so that we wouldn’t want to say that we have that many and they are not working against trafficking and we haven’t got them all out collecting data in the field. The truth is that building capacity around data collection is slow and tough work. But we have been developing ways of doing this. We’re in the middle now of a major project to develop a data collection app for sisters to use for precisely this purpose, because they’re embedded all over the globe and they can they have a, I would kind of call it a grassroots side view to be able to really leverage all of that local intelligence and get that into the conversation around trafficking. So, we’re doing all we can around that. But I don’t want to make you think that we have an army of half a million sisters collecting data that would be to over claim.
Sandie [00:18:05] But the potential is really there. And I want people to begin to imagine how they can be part of capturing that data. Data-driven decision making is a thing. And we have to be responsive to that. We have to find ways to measure prevention. And that reductive understanding of impact is like looking in the mirror and we have to turn everything backwards. I’ve been fascinated as we move teaching online and I’m talking to my students, but I can see myself and I raise my hand up to change something and it’s reverse. And we don’t have the conceptual abilities most of the time to understand that negative view or picture so that we can intervene and do something about it. And I think it’s going to be one of the emerging fields that more and more people are going to be able to grasp and make that, as you said, leap so that we have more focus there. I could talk about that part for the whole podcast, but I want to go back to something that you said earlier about the value of trust in slavery prevention.
Luke [00:19:34] So my feeling about this has always been that anti-trafficking work isn’t possible without trust, but if you speak to a funder in this space and you say, give us some money for trust, we want to invest in trust, rich interventions. Look at you like you’re crazy, like you’ve lost your mind and say, well, what do you mean, trust? How are you going to measure that? Well, this led to some conversations with academics, including a wonderful academic at one of the authors of the first global slavery index in twenty-sixteen, a wonderful man named Professor Monti Data. He works out of Richmond, Virginia. And what month he said was, well, you know what? There are global indices of trust. And what we can do is we can cross-reference those indices with global slavery index data and with the State Department data and let’s see what we get. So, he ran the numbers on this and that reports that piece of analysis, which is going to be published, I hope, in the first quarter of next year, has found this, that a one-unit increase in trust on that scale will predict a minimum of a 16 percent decrease in slavery over the world. And this holds statistically significant. And when you control all kinds of variables. So, this is very exciting for us because for the first time, it’s putting something very quantitative on this issue of trust, which everybody at the frontline knows is critical, but which just hasn’t entered into the vernacular of antislavery policymaking. So, we feel that this is an important step forward and the beginning of a new research agenda. We’re not trying to claim that we have all the answers. We want others to be pushing on this, too, because we think it’s so important. But for us, I’d summarize it and say this trust is kryptonite to slavery, where you have more trust, you have less slavery, you have less human trafficking. So, we need to build trust. And where there is trust, we need to be looking at how to invest in it, how to build it up even more. That would be one of his core messages. And that’s what I think this research agenda is pointing towards.
Sandie [00:21:47] So then I have another question, how do I measure trust?
Luke [00:21:52] Well, the Bertelsmann Shift and Transformation Index, which is a social capital measure, has a very complex way of doing it, and it’s mainly through surveys. They survey lots of communities and they ask them questions and things like if you wanted to report a crime, would you trust your local police force to investigate it? And in lots of places, people say no. And you can understand why that might be. Now, in the context of human trafficking, obviously, this becomes very important. If you’re somebody who’s trafficked and you can’t trust the police, then what are you going to do? And there are many other questions like do you trust your other civic institutions? Do you trust the pillars within your community, the church, the mosque, the good work, whatever? So, they have a very, very complex and huge survey which they roll out Bertelsmann Shift Transformation Index, and they do that quite frequently. And it’s a fairly robust measure of social capital and trust. So, it is possible and it’s that that we are using, among other measures of trust, to give us an idea of what exactly it is we’re talking about and how that might relate to slavery prevalence.
Sandie [00:23:01] Wow. So, one of the things that we know from our research here is that if a young person has one trusted adult that has a really high level of prevention from being recruited or lured into a trafficking situation. And yet most of our prevention and I’m using air quotes for our listeners, most of our prevention in our schools is based on warnings about what not to do, not based on building trust. So, we probably need to go back and review that. I’m looking at the time and I want to follow up on a couple other questions. How have you repositioned yourself during covid?
Tove van [00:23:52] So covid has really changed the antislavery landscape, you might say that it’s up the stakes because we know that poverty and unemployment are kind of hotbeds for exploitation. So, we realized quite early on in the pandemic, through the experiences of our front liners, is that in order to prevent traffickers from capitalizing on people’s desperation, we would have to move very fast. So, we pivoted from our usual programs in our usual prevention programs in the early stages of lockdown as the most effective slavery prevention became to provide food and emergency supplies to high-risk communities. And we were fortunate that in this emergency phase, we were able to support over thirty thousand people through lockdown in India, Albania, and also in the Philippines. But since then, we’ve been looking to the medium term and have developed a program of transitional grants focused on increasing resilience in high-risk communities to kind of prevent an imminent surge in human trafficking before economies recover fully. So that’s what we’re currently involved in. And in all of this, the value of front-line organizations couldn’t be more evident. We’ve seen that our frontline network has been able to respond extremely nimbly, and in many cases, they’ve been able to continue to do emergency work and provide food as a result of their relationships with local authorities or police. So, another instance in which trust is paving the way for effective antislavery work.
Sandie [00:25:31] That was a great answer. And I love hearing resilience. I’m going to go back and listen to that again. One of the things I’ve been experiencing is how do I balance what I’m doing with two or three survivors, you know, front line work and the important work of advocacy and policy change. My fifth “P” is policy. I think that has to be a focus so that things aren’t in little pockets but become more widespread from that top-down approach.
Tove van [00:26:08] I’m happy to start this and then maybe Luke wants to finish, but I think it’s important to say that effective grassroots work does include advocacy that enables our front line and that is led by our front line needs and experiences. And we actually often call advocacy amplification because it’s more of a projection of frontline voices into high-level conversations than anything else. And we found one area where this is being particularly useful is in conversations about business supply chains. And I think Luke can delve into that a little bit.
Luke [00:26:42] Yes, I think the policy point, I think, is critically important. And Sandra, my view coming really from the policy space that was my professional background before I got into this would be that we need to have a fair bit of disruption, actually, because the truth is that it’s the same old people all the time talking the same old stuff. And we need to make sure that frontline voices are adequately represented. We don’t believe that the frontline voice is heard nearly enough because if it were, we wouldn’t have such a reductive understanding of impact. We wouldn’t have money skewing away from prevention in the way that it does. That’s a policy matter. These things have to be addressed at the level of policy. And that’s only going to happen when we make sure that the people who are confronting this day after day are adequately heard and not the same group of very large NGOs as not to brief against those NGOs is just to say, come on, you know, we need a bit more diversity here and we need to make sure the frontline voice is listened to and properly represented. So, to me, that would be a really crucial thing. But going into the supply chain point, look, we could talk about this alone for hours. Human trafficking or stopping human trafficking and dealing with prevention is multifaceted. It touches every area of our lives. It must touch government, but it must also touch big business and the way that business operates, particularly around exploiting transparency. And we need to be informed and empowered as consumers to do the right thing. And right now, the tools simply don’t exist to give consumers the confidence they need, that the things that they wear and the things that they’re consuming are slavery free. And we have to get into that space. And that’s going to require a lot of work at the advocacy and policy level.
Sandie [00:28:32] This has been a focus for us here at the Ending Human Trafficking podcast several times in California, passed a supply chain Transparency Act in 2010. And I think we interviewed about a year and a half ago, John McArthur from Sydney, where the entire diocese has policy for procurement that requires supply chain checking. And that’s becoming a really important piece of advocacy. Our time is almost out. But I’m going to ask one more question. What does twenty twenty-one bring for a rise?
Luke [00:29:12] The truth is that we are in an extremely fortunate position because we are going to be able to start some major work in Nigeria and this for us was an area that we were desperate to get into and we simply lack the resources to do it. Well, happily, we’re going to be able to do that. So that’s that is great for us. From a crisis point of view, some serious work in Nigeria, which is one of the principal source areas for trafficked women for sexual exploitation anyway. So, we’re very happy about that. But I think the truth is that 2021 is going to be a really tough year, the indicators of vulnerability to trafficking will go through the roof because of this Covid crisis. And when the statistics come through of trafficking prevalence this year and into next year, those numbers are going to be high. I’m very sorry to say so. Our entire community has got to redouble our efforts. We’ve got to come together to look beyond our own thresholds, because I think everybody has been very concerned with what’s happening on their own doorstep with this crisis, of course. But we’re going to need to look further afield and realize that however bad we’ve got it, there are people who are deeply vulnerable to trafficking and they’re going to be more vulnerable because of the coronavirus crisis. So that’s what I think it holds some good news for Nigeria, for us at tinged with, I think, great difficulty that the whole anti-trafficking community will have to weather together in partnership.
Sandie [00:30:42] Thank you, Luke. Well, we appreciate both of you. I can tell we could have several more conversations and you can be sure we’re going to stay in touch and make sure that we put the links to your resources in the show notes. Thank you so much for being with us today.
Luke [00:31:01] Thank you so much.
Tove van [00:31:03] Thank you, Sanjay.
Luke [00:31:04] And today, what a great pleasure it’s been to be with you for this time. Thank you.
Tove van [00:31:08] Wonderful to talk to you both. Thanks.
Dave [00:31:11] Thank you so much to both of you and for your work. And as Sandie mentioned, we’re going to have all the links in the episode notes for this episode. If you’d like to track down details, go over to Endinghumantrafficking.org. And we’re also inviting you to take the first step there. If you’re perhaps listening for the first time or one of the first times, go online and download a copy of Sandie book, The Five Things You Must Know: A QuickStart Guide to Ending Human Trafficking, absolutely free. It will teach you the five critical things that Sandie identified. You should know before you join the fight against trafficking. You can get access by going to Endinghumantrafficking.org. That’s also the place for all of the links. In addition, if you are looking for information about the next Ensure Justice conference that’s going to be coming up March 5th and 6th, 2021, the best address to go for information and to register early is Ensurejustice.com. And we will be back in two weeks. Take care of everybody.